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Remarks by Dr. Timothy P. White – May 20, 2015

Chancellor, California State University
CSU Board of Trustees Meeting — Chancellor’s Report
Long Beach, CA
May 19–20, 2015

Thank you, Chair Monville.

I join you in formally welcoming Silas Abrego to his first Board of Trustees meeting.

Sy, I look forward to your experience, leadership and insight as we move forward. Welcome back to the California State University… welcome home.

I would like to add my lasting thanks and congratulations to Trustee Talar Alexanian, whose term as Student Trustee is coming to a close following her graduation from CSUN last week.

Talar smiles a lot. As I sat on the dais as she accepted her degree from President Harrison, it was deservedly wider than I had seen before.

Talar, you have represented the best interests of your fellow students while providing insight that has helped advance the work of this board and the mission of the CSU. Thank you and congratulations.

I would also like to thank Sacramento State President Alex Gonzalez for his nearly 40 years of exemplary service to the CSU, the Sacramento community, and the state of California.

Alex, best wishes and congratulations on a richly-deserved retirement.

Thank you as well to CSU Alumni Council President Kristin Crellin, who is joining us for her final Board of Trustees meeting. Kristin has been an innovative leader for CSU alumni.

Kristin, thank you for your vision and lifelong commitment to this university and its mission.

Devon Graves, outgoing CSSA president and graduating senior… Devon, thank you for your leadership.

And lastly, a tip of the hat to Ephraim Smith, who has served the CSU well for over 25 years.Ephraim announced his retirement last year, but after some gentle prodding, agreed to stay in his role as Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer through the remainder of this academic year.

Ephraim, thank you again for all that you have done for this university… and congratulations on your well-deserved retirement… for real, this time.

Before acknowledging many of the great achievements of the CSU community, it is my duty under the Education Code to report approved changes in admission practices before those changes can be enacted.

Cal State Northridge has demonstrated that it is receiving more applications from upper division transfer applicants than it has capacity to serve.

In addition, the Fresno, Monterey Bay, Northridge, Pomona, San Jose, and Sonoma campuses demonstrated that they are receiving more applications from applicants in specific academic programs during the initial filing period than there is capacity to support.

All six campuses have complied with the provisions of Education Code that require a series of public hearings and public disclosure in advance of submitting their final program impaction requests, and been approved to implement these changes in admission practices for the 2016-17 academic year.

I know that all of us are deeply concerned that the CSU must turn away eligible applicants. Yet, access without quality is a false promise. Access without sufficient courses, support services and opportunities to enhance classroom, laboratory, clinical, studio and field learning is a false promise. Access without adequate faculty and staff to mentor and advise students is a false promise.

Until the CSU is adequately funded by the state in a way that allows us to meet California’s true demand for an educated citizenry, campuses will be forced to make difficult choices that balance opportunity and quality in order to ensure those students we are able to serve are empowered to succeed.

I thank the presidents and the faculty and staff of our campuses for the thoughtful, accountable and consultative way these decisions are being made and implemented.

That doesn’t, however, soften the pain that these decisions create for our university nor for the students denied.

In the weeks and years ahead, we have much work to do regarding proper and competitive compensation for all of our employee groups. We are committed to this while balancing all our priorities — access, student success, counseling, technology infrastructure for learning environments, physical infrastructure, and Title IX coordinators to name a few.

We are also committed to live within our means. We committed to a three percent increase during the 2014-2015 year and a two percent the next two years… and we did it.

We committed to campus equity programs based on need and capacity. We did that, too.

In the spirit of balanced conversations... Since yesterday’s meeting, I’ve been copied on several emails regarding faculty salary. I was included in an email from one represented faculty member to his or her president:

You have heard many complaints about faculty salaries… being one who complained… now it’s only fair to thank you for the recent equity adjustment. The shift in my quality of life opportunities in tremendous.

And paraphrasing another message from a campus professor to his or her president:

On behalf of our faculty we greatly appreciate your willingness to work together on addressing the salary issues that have plagued faculty… providing the more inclusive and cooperative organizational climate is key.

Vice Chancellor Lamb and I — indeed all of us — have heard the comments on workplace environments — in particular, abusive conduct.

We take this seriously.

We responded by establishing two months ago a systemwide workplace environment committee. It has broad representation by all stakeholders. That thoughtful work will be brought forward and presented to the Board of Trustees when complete in academic year 2015-2016.

Vice Chancellor Lamb is also undertaking some more immediate efforts to analyze and respond sooner rather than later.

But let me be clear… I am committed to this. Everyone deserves a respectful and welcoming environment where they can succeed. I ask all CSU faculty, staff, administrators and students to join me in this commitment. It is a shared and individual responsibility and obligation. Where this behavior exists, we can and will do better.

With that, I’m pleased to highlight many successes achieved by CSU students, faculty and staff.

Earlier this month, Cal State undergraduate and graduate students from 22 campuses participated in the 29th annual CSU Student Research Competition, held at Cal State San Bernardino…

200 research projects in the fields of biology, agriculture, economics, education, physical and mathematical sciences, health and nutrition science, social sciences and more were presented to judges from the business, philanthropic, government, and academic sectors…

Congratulations to all of the student research teams that participated… and to the 38 first and second place teams on their awards.

Additionally, two Cal State campuses — Los Angeles and San Jose — were recently awarded a combined total of $9.6 million research grants from NASA as part of its Minority University Research and Education Project.

In fact, Cal State Los Angeles and San Jose State received two of the ten total grants awarded nationwide by NASA… and out of 76 proposals submitted to the agency.

As part of the grant award, both campuses will be establishing institutional research opportunity centers to study hydrology, climate change, and other STEM fields.

It is clear that the high-quality scholarship and expertise of our students, faculty, and staff is of significant value — $10 million, in fact — to NASA’s scientists and administrators.

And from the clouds to the soil, innovation and discovery continues to run deep throughout this university.

San Diego State students recently won first place at the Richard Barrentine Values and Ventures Business Plan Competition, held at Texas Christian University.

And while the first place award they received — out of 50 total entries to the competition — is a fantastic achievement… the nature of their entry is an amazing triumph in its own right, one that has the real potential to feed millions, bring entire communities and populations out of poverty, and significantly change the world.

The winning team from San Diego State developed an innovative thresher device that can dramatically improve the efficiency and efficacy of Ethiopian farmers to harvest a regional super grain — teff — with just the push of a pedal.

After testing the device during visits to Ethiopia earlier this year, local teff farmers named the thresher meirga, which in Amharic means right machine.

Local farmers in Ethiopia were ecstatic about the potential that this machine, developed by our incredible students, has to feed their communities and improve their economies by allowing them to export this grain to markets throughout Africa and Europe.

And, the team from San Diego State will invest funds from their award into the development and production of a third prototype and hope to get the device into the hands of teff farmers soon.

That’s the revolutionary power that this university holds… the power to build amazing things, shape countless lives, and make positive, global change.

We are all inspired by these examples — and in the immense talent, creativity, and work ethic that our students, faculty and staff contribute to this university every single day.

When others look at the state of higher education across the nation and fret that our best days are behind us — I say nonsense.

I point to examples like these as to why the CSU is best positioned to move California’s and the world’s economy and society forward.

Chair Monville, that concludes my report.​